27 October 2020
What does it take to organize a dance festival in the middle of a pandemic? International ballet superstar Diana Vishneva has an answer or two. Her festival of contemporary choreography, Context. Diana Vishneva, currently in its eighth season, is taking place from October 14 to November 29, with live performances at a number of venues in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. This year, for the first time since its inauguration, the festival also features an impressive online program.
Dance Magazine spoke with Vishneva about the challenges and the rewards of holding this event during the pandemic, her return to the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre and her avid new fan: her 2-year-old son, Rudolf.
Why did you decide to go ahead with the festival during the pandemic?
We never thought of canceling. Our mission is to support young choreographers, and there were more than 100 applicants this year. We launched our own digital platform to connect with the audience and to have the option to switch to the online-only format, if we had to. A number of live performances had to be postponed until 2021, including Revisor, by Kidd Pivot, and Playback, by Batsheva Dance Company. Fortunately, we were able to present our key live event, the Young Choreographers Competition, which opened the festival on October 14 at the Gogol Center in Moscow. In November, we are planning live performances of two one-act productions, Schaherezade and The Buffoon, by the Perm Ballet, which also will be available for streaming.
What are some of the new projects of the festival?
This year, we introduced a new digital platform to present online the main events of the festival, including educational programs: master classes, lectures and roundtable discussions. The livestream of our Young Choreographers Competition attracted nearly 100,000 viewers. I was surprised, even shocked, by this number. At first, I thought that there was an extra 0.
We have a brand-new initiative, Context Open, designed to give the opportunity for dancers, choreographers and companies, without restrictions on age, education or citizenship, to create and showcase their work.
We are also exploring unconventional performance spaces, such as museums and industrial buildings. One of the winners of our choreographic competition, Olga Labovkina, adapted her work Air as a piece of “immersion theater,” in which the audience actively participates in the show. It will be performed as part of this year’s festival at Moscow’s Hlebozavod No. 9 (a former bread factory turned into an art space) and St. Petersburg’s Sevkabel Port.
Read the full Dance Magazine article here.